Klartraum is German for the stage of lucid dream when you become aware that you are dreaming and are able to manipulate your surroundings. Silhouetted against the RGB pulse of the club lighting rig you see two figures in the DJ booth – one female, bouncing with effervescent energy and feeding off the buzz from the dance floor and one male, working the controls with the subdued calm of a Zen master. From the speakers comes the expected throb, but something is different. Rather than formulaic kick-hat-snare metronome, it is as if a widescreen switch has been flipped, the periphery of your hearing being licked with unknown sound waves that had been criminally absent from your night. It’s an exciting time to catch up with Nadja Lind and Helmut Ebritsch to primarily talk about their upcoming concert Klartraum Live @ Passions Kirche. Before we begin I delved into a brief history and overview of Klartraum with Nadja first of all expressed her thank you for the opportunity to speak with Decoded Magazine and shared their excitement about their first Klartraum concert in such a nice place in the heart of Berlin Kreuzberg.
“Klartraum came to life 2006 when our first EP got signed to Night Drive Music. Shortly before we started meeting in Helmut’s studio in Berlin to create music together. We met through an internet forum for electronic musicians and I was just about to move to Berlin anyways” says Nadja. “Since then we released three studio albums Evolution, Secret Moon & E(enneagram). Also, a lot of EPs on many labels and in parallel were touring in Europe, Middle East, Australia, India and the USA. Some club highlights are Tresor, DC10, Fabric, Kater Blau, Subsonic Festival Australia and LIB Festival USA” Helmut further added.
Now we’ll begin with the concept for the concert. I asked if the concept was something which they have both been developing for a while now? “After so many years of playing in clubs and on festivals and with so many productions over the last 12 years we thought it would be exciting to do something different and play a concert. Also, friends and fans have told us they see our music as much in clubs as in a concert/listening style” Nadja says. “For us the most impressive thing in our club touring was playing at fabric (Room 2) on a real stage and people loved that. The crowd reeeally got the vibe and they really got that we improvise everything in place. So, we already had a powerful hint that our music would work very well in a concert setup. In the club context it was also very hard that people couldn’t understand that this is REALLY live (no stems, no prepared set, no arrangements, no DJ) and then there is the space problem for all the equipment not to think of proper sound checks. So, we are happy to have our own venue but this is also a huge responsibility as we are doing the organisation on our own” Helmut excitedly added.
The location and venue choice are very important. Staying in Berlin must have been a very important decision. They both went onto to explain the venue selection process before deciding on Passion Kirche:
“We have been checking out places for some time, yes. And we think this place is just exactly what we’ve been looking for. We have gone through many venues like cinemas, yoga places, clubs, concert rooms before but in many places, there was no vision for a visual concept or the sound and ambience was not right. The smooth reverb and the visual ambience were just perfect in the Passion Church, and it is very central in Berlin.”
Next they went onto explain some of the characteristics which makes it the perfect venue for the concert. Nadja continued; “The church has got a very open and friendly vibe first of all. The interior is beautiful with very colourful windows. They host lots of musical events and the church was built for that meaning they paid a lot of attention to the acoustic inside the building. And last but not least the ‘Schuke’ organ is impressive and Helmut will perform one of our favourite Klartraum tracks on this amazing instrument which I can’t wait to hear…
We will have some great visual support by akusto.Optik VJ team who will light up the space which looks really beyond amazing! The whole interior somehow comes to a life of its own and the room is flooded with colours on top of the sound we generate – I was blown away from what I only saw from the first beamer check.” Helmut added “Yes akustoOptik will do a so named video mapping of the church and the church organ. So, they can project different graphics & colours onto all kind of interior of the church with mighty beamers.”
As a duo when Klartraum perform Nadja and Helmut both work very well together in their respective roles. Nadja is more focussed on the drum patterns and percussion and Helmut on the synths, pads and lead melodies. Nadja filled me in with a little more detail:
“Yes that’s correct. Helmut’s just got the very unique ‘Helmut chords’ going and since he knows how to play the piano he is the one taking care of the lead melodies. Unfortunately, I learned to play the guitar which isn’t very handy on keys in a live situation but I know how to accompany with pads and percussions.” Helmut further added “I will focus on playing live chords and melodies and doing the premix. As a DJ Nadja has a natural feel for grooves and nice sounding bass drums. Also, she is very good in creating ambience out of sound structures. But for sure she also plays her roli seaboard (a squishy small nice strange 5D expressive controller) and Korg Minilogue.”
As we are now beginning to touch on technology I asked for a walk through of their live setup for the concert? Nadja explained first; “The setup will be Minilouge, Volca Bass, Roli Blocks Seaboard, Roland TR-8 on my side with an iPad with runs Touchable 3 as a controller for Ableton which we have synchronised on two MacBooks.” On Helmut’s side he explained; “My planned setup is Moog Subsequent 37, Roland System 1, Roland SE02, Akai MPK61, Akai MPC Live, Roli Seaboard, Roland TB03 and we use a Roland MX-1 to premix our instruments. And I also use the awesome touchable 3 on the iPad to have a nice interface for Ableton Live.” Now we are passed the geeky part of our chat I asked how often during their live shows do they improvise or start live jammin’? Or are they strict with sticking to how their material was originally written? “We improvise our tracks thoroughly – of course we want each track to be recognised but we will interpret each track anew. Also, our rehearsals are different each time” says Nadja. “It is always 100% improvised and I will play the Roli seaboard, keyboard and venue church organ. We also will improvise slower versions of our more melodic tracks and they will be more epic and big sounding” added Helmut. For anybody who will not be able to attend on the 16th Oct the concert will be recorded, but unfortunately not live streamed. They will release the highlights on their YouTube channel.
Nadja has mixed a selection of Klartraum tracks for Decoded Radio show which features the Klartraum album Void Universes. She kindly gave a walk-through of the album. “The Void Universes Album is the work during our last 2 years. We felt like creating music for sake of just enjoying and creating music and not thinking of how it would fit into a club setting, EP or what not. We just wanted to get in flow no matter what would be the outcome. And we have one single remix on this Album from Patrick Chardronnet on our track ‘Grinsekatze’. He did an outstanding job as expected. I’ve loved his music ever since I started spinning vinyl in 2003 and am chuffed to have him on board. Helmut further added “Yeah we decided not to go with any major electronic music direction but more from an inward creative need to express something. Also, we added a spoken voice artist to add some interesting self-reflecting vocals. We like the concept of multiple void universes that have slightly different parameters like time, space, mass or energy so all tracks are placed in this concept.”
We then went on to talk a little about the creative and work flow process while producing the album:
“The workflow is based on flow. Most of the times we work in parallel with 2 DAWs synchronised via Ableton Link. We record external instruments through the Soundcraft Impact mixing desk and in the end, we record a very long live version of a track. We have to trim it down and arrange some minor things like breaks or small tweaks. I apply a mastering and voila a new Klartraum creation is born. If you are asking for the creative spark, we do a lot of evolving work in dismantling inner identities and blocks and this influences very much the chosen topics of the tracks.”
Performing live or as a DJ are both very different. I asked their preference between the two? For many years I have only been playing my own tracks and remixes but still it is a completely different setting to perform live. When I only DJ I have more time to jump and party myself compared to performing live where you have to be more focused on the gear. It’s both enjoyable though” says Nadja. As Helmut is not a DJ he commented “My only choice is performing live but I also enjoy studio work very much. The only thing I don’t like very much is travelling.”
Nadja and Helmut are also both directors of Agile Mastering. We briefly spoke about it in a previous interview in the past 2.5 years. I asked if there has been any updates since we last spoke? “Yes. Agile-Mastering is now exclusively for our labels’ music (Lucidflow, Sofa-Sessions, im-moral…) and some very close customers. Otherwise it’d be too time consuming. We try to focus on our core and that is our music, our label and our evolving process” they explained.
As we draw our discussion to an end we spoke about plans to expand the Klartraum live concept in the future. They informed me they both love to evolve organically and be in the now as much as possible. It’s not only a big pleasure but also tons of extra work to organise a concert like this all by their self. They will decide after 16th October. Everything is possible as some friends already told them about their great sounding churches in other cities. As parting words Klartraum thanked me for having them on Decoded and setting up this nice interview. “I would like to add a big thanks to all our friends and fans who have been supporting us over the years. If you like to support our first concert feel free to share the event and posts, leave comments and subscribe to our Lucidflow YouTube channel. We appreciate your networking big time you really make the difference. Thank you!” – Klartraum.
Decoded Radio hosted by Luke Brancaccio presents Klartraum ‘Void Universes’ with Nadja Lind.
01. Cioz – Cookie Man [Get Physical]
02. Blondish – Wizard Of Love [Rebirth]
03. Linus Quick – Tethys [We Are the Brave]
04. Looke – What Else (Lemmon Remix)
05. Cioz – Lucky Shot [Get Physical]
06. Jonas Rathsman – Glades Of Glory [Rebellion]
07. Francesca Lombardo – Spondylus
08. Gil Montiel – Melts
09. David Mayer – Drained Feat. Sooma (Tim Engelhardt)
10. Arm in Arm – Nightfly (Bookashade Remix) [Blaufield Music]
Klartraum ‘Void Universes’ showcase mixed by Nadja Lind
01. Dystopia – Klartraum [Lucidflow]
02. White Lady – Klartraum [Lucidflow]
03. Animal Kingdom – Klartraum [Lucidflow]
04. Grinsekatze – Klartraum [Lucidflow]
05. False Self – Klartraum [Lucidflow]
06. Void Feeling Interlude – Klartraum [Lucidflow]
07. Travel Pussy – Klartraum [Lucidflow]
08. The No – State State – Klartraum [Lucidflow]
09. Vision – Klartraum [Lucidflow]
10. Sheng-Fui – Klartraum [Lucidflow]
11. The Non Verbal I Am – Klartraum [Lucidflow]
12. Grinsekatze (Patrick Chardronnet Remix) Klartraum [Lucidflow]
13. Mass Effect – Klartraum [Lucidflow]